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The Unsung Hero: Maintaining a Relationship with the Undergrad House Manager

    

You love your undergraduate brothers. After all, you were once one of them. You strived just as hard to be a great student and fraternity man. You shared many of the same successes. And yes, at times you failed just as hard.

It’s par for the course for all brothers in a fraternity chapter.

Yet there’s a special place in your heart for the fraternity house manager. Maybe it’s the way he makes the chapter house feel like home, all while refusing to take an ounce of anyone’s bull.

Your own house manager worked his butt off. You’ll never forget those years living in the safe and (relatively) clean chapter house, all because of his stalwart house maintenance.

You see yourself in him. Not your younger self. Actually, when you think about it, you made your house manager’s life a living hell back then. Messes to clean. Broken pipes to mend. Mystery stains.

It’s a miracle you made it out of there without the guy socking you one. Now that you’re older and, hopefully, a little wiser, you can see the error of your former ways.

You marvel at how the new house manager handles his business.

He’s all of, what, twenty years old?

Whatever you were doing at that age, some of it likely makes you cringe. Yet this kid is running the show with confidence and humility. He takes every “uh, our toilet’s clogged again” from brothers in stride.

Taking on the role of fraternity house manager means performing duties beyond one’s years as a young college student. A brother that takes on this challenge must evolve into a strong leader and role model for the rest of the chapter--and even some alumni.

To you, he’s the Unsung Hero. That’s why OmegaFi wants to share some tips on Maintaining a Relationship with the Undergrad House Manager.

An Open Door Policy for Alumni and the Fraternity House Manager

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The house manager mans a direct line between the alumni housing corporation and the housing needs of undergrad brothers.

The more you communicate and engage with one another, the better for all.

A strong bond with the house manager can also improve alumni-chapter engagement overall. This can make fundraising capital campaigns for renovations or other housing projects more likely to succeed, since alumni and the chapter will have fostered a shared perspective on housing needs.

The house manager should feel like he can come to alumni when he has questions about house maintenance, fraternity safety, brothers’ leasing contracts or other concerns. Also, while it’s important to let the house manager do his job without interference, he should feel confident that his alumni will step in to give necessary guidance.

Local housing corporation alumni should visit the chapter house regularly. When you can actually see a house manager’s concerns or successes in person, it makes building a better fraternity living environment that much easier.

The House Manager Is a Student First

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Please don’t get us wrong. We know that alumni housing corporation volunteers lead busy lives, too.

Still, there’s a crucial distinction between you and your undergrad brethren. Their primary responsibility will always be to their academics.

They often lack the resources as young students to take ultimate responsibility for your chapter house property. Thus, that responsibility will always bounce back to you and, if necessary, the national fraternity.

House manager is a tough gig. So is earning a degree. Give this brother some leeway for little mistakes. Let him work with other executive officers to fix things when necessary.

But also, don’t let him drown. A failing house manager equates to a failing chapter, as well as a failing housing committee.

Play the tough-guy role when brothers aren’t listening to the house manager and chapter president about leasing contracts, cleaning schedules or safety regulations. Don’t force him to always wield ultimate authority in the house.

Invite him to an alumni leadership meeting or two as well, to give him a stronger idea about how alumni manage chapter housing on the administrative end.

Talk to him about how classes are going. Feel out any areas where his duties suffer from lack of time and resources, or where his grades drop from being overloaded with house responsibilities. Let him know it’s okay to come to you when he’s overwhelmed.

Ultimately, giving your house manager the support he needs to be a better student will make him a more balanced brother as well.

Fraternity House Management by the Numbers

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The house manager is tasked with obligations that require an intimate understanding of the “small text,” so to speak. For instance, he might assist with filing employee taxes, or with aspects of risk management that affect liability insurance.

These responsibilities have an impact well beyond the chapter level. This is where alumni need to provide the biggest level of support.

Tax season will put the strength of your relationship with the undergrad house manager to the test.

He’s reporting to and following the standards of a lot of regulatory bodies, on top of being a resource of information for brothers living in the house. He’s responsible to chapter advisors, the Board of Governors, House Corporation, the university and its Greek Life office, the Fraternity Risk Management Trust, university public safety officials, and the chapter executive board.

He’s acting as an official conduit for housing matters between the chapter and these other groups.

You can help by keeping an open line of communication with not just the house manager, but these other officials as well. Allow an easy flow of information between alumni, the house manager and chapter executives, and other parties overseeing the chapter house property.

Most importantly, encourage the house manager when he’s doing a bang-up job. Encourage him even when he makes mistakes. He’s the hero your fraternity house deserves, so sing his praises far and wide.

What are some methods you use to keep a strong relationship with your undergrad house manager? How might you improve that relationship? Build your blueprint for a better future in the comments below.

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